‘Game of Thrones’: In Pursuit Of Knowledge

Published 12 months ago by , Updated April 28th, 2014 at 12:12 pm,

Iain Glenn Ian McElhinney and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 4 Game of Thrones: In Pursuit Of Knowledge

[This is a review of Game of Thrones season 4, episode 4. There will be SPOILERS.]


After a thematically consistent yet divisive episode last week, Game of Thrones returns with a far less explicitly challenging installment that nonetheless will likely generate considerable discourse for what it did in its final moments – which was show a White Walker quite literally welcome Craster’s last son into the fold of the frozen undead. That final glimpse of the child’s eyes turning radiant blue is a piece of knowledge the show hasn’t divulged before, as the White Walkers have more or less remained as a little seen but oft thought of presence. Their ways are largely unknown, so when the series decides to offer up such tantalizing and perplexing information, it’s offering knowledge that could potentially have massive ramifications when it comes to the overall plot of the show.

In that sense, ‘Oathkeeper’ – which brings Brienne and Jaime specialists Bryan Cogman and famed Breaking Bad director Michelle MacLaren – is all about the value of knowledge, and how, once dispersed, knowledge can never be bottled back up. In the right hands, things typically do not go unlearned. Here Cogman has been meticulous in his writing; there’s knowledge being disseminated everywhere in the episode, and under MacLaren’s typically superb direction, it becomes far more pointed and precise. For instance, just take a look at the aforementioned final scene with the council of White Walkers and the baby. MacLaren brilliantly keeps the approaching walker out of focus – at one point she even resorts to the common Breaking Bad method of watching action from the inside of an object outward – so that when the frame is pulled completely into focus, the audience is wholly aware the formerly obscured portion is now delivering significant, noteworthy information.

But the episode effectively touches upon the notion of knowledge and the ultimate power it wields in more overt ways, as well. Sprinkled throughout every character’s thread are hints of the importance of information, awareness, and comprehension. Knowledge of the truth, knowledge of fighting, and basic knowledge, like learning to speak and read a different language are all aspects of Daenerys quick, liberation of Meereen. Meanwhile back at King’s Landing (and somewhere off the coast of King’s Landing, presumably) knowledge of who conspired to kill Joffrey begins to make its way to the ears of those who were previously in the dark.

Nicolaj Coster Waldau in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 4 Game of Thrones: In Pursuit Of Knowledge

Petyr Baelish almost gleefully informs Sansa of her unwitting involvement in the king’s assassination, while letting her in on his ultimate goal: having everything. In the two short scenes Aidan Gillen has had this season, he delivers his lines likes Littlefinger is preparing to devour all of Westeros in one big gulp; he’s just waiting to pull it all into the gaping maw that feeds his consumptive ferocity and need of acquisition. He’s a slight man hiding an incredible appetite, and as strong and seemingly unobtainable as Baelish’s desire is, it’s interesting to note that he’s not so much wanting it to happen as he is simply waiting for it to happen.

Perhaps that’s why Littlefinger has aligned himself with the Tyrell’s, a family of doers. Olenna’s not afraid to kill a monster poised to marry her granddaughter, even if he is seated upon the Iron Throne (as we surmised in our “Purple Wedding Explanation“). That kind of undertaking requires more than sheer chutzpah (which Olenna has in spades) to pull it off; it takes a considerable amount of know-how, something that is only acquired when a person gets to be Olenna’s age – a rare thing in Westeros, one would imagine.

Gwedoline Christie in Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 4 Game of Thrones: In Pursuit Of Knowledge

On the Lannister side of things, Jaime pays a visit to the man accused of Joffrey’s murder after Bronn informs him Tyrion’s first choice to be his champion was, in fact, his older brother. Spurred on by this knowledge, as well as concerns over his as-yet unwritten legacy, Jaime entrusts his Valyrian steel sword, Podrick, and the oath he gave to Catelyn Stark to Brienne, adding another layer of complexity to a man who essentially soiled the goodwill he’d earned with his actions during ‘Breaker of Chains.’

The power of knowledge is prominent throughout the Castle Black segment, as well as north of the Wall with Karl and the other mutineers at Craster’s Keep. This time, however, it’s more about deliberately limiting knowledge in order to maintain an advantage. On one hand (pun intended), there is Locke’s infiltration of the Night’s Watch to get closer to Bran in Rickon, while on the other, there is Jon Snow’s increasingly desperate attempt to prevent the knowledge that Karl and the other mutineers have from falling into Mance Rayder’s possession.

For an episode that essentially serves as a kick-starter for deviations in certain threads and entirely new courses in others, ‘Oathkeeper’ is a solid entry that once again demonstrates many viewers already know: Game of Thrones raises even its own bar whenever there’s a simple thematic element at its episode’s core.


Game of Thrones continues next Sunday with ‘First of His Name’ @ 9pm on HBO. Check out a preview below:

Photos: Helen Sloan & Macall B. Polay/HBO

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  1. The last minutes really impressed me.
    I remembered GRRM saying in an interview that in TWOW, we’d go even farther north. I know there are differences between the books and the television show but… HOLY SH**! Was that a teaser for TWOW??? :o

    • I know, I’ve read the books and I was so shocked to see that bit! I don’t even know what to think! Haha

    • This episode blew me away! And as a reader of the books the final scene with the white walkers in particular, but I absolutely loved it!

      Really enjoying the subtle differences as well. The events going on around Castle Black and Kraster’s Keep in particular! The Locke character looked familiar, but completely forgot who he was until he was mentioned in this review, so thanks!

  2. They did not write off Ser Pounce! Yay!

  3. Holy cows that was an awesome episode and equally awesome review! In my opinion, the subtleties – Grey Worm and Missandei’s slight hand touching during the language lesson – to the overt – the final reveal of what the blue eyed devils really do with Craster’s unwanted sons – make this show far outshine other shows. I love this damn series.

    After last week, I thought for sure Jaime had hit the arc of redemption, but was pleasantly surprised after this episode to find myself still rooting for him, strange as that may seem to those who’ve read the books and truly know what a despicable, vile character he is. I still hold out hope though.

  4. That ending was dope. The scenery looked like a lot like something out of Middle-Earth.

  5. That ending hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t expecting to see so far north so soon.

  6. My favorite episode of the season so far. I felt each storyline was managed and unfolded incredibly well. I also loved many of the changes and additions to the book series in this episode. My mind was blown by the last 5 minutes with the White Walkers.

  7. If I were to read that Pod and Brienne on a road trip together would be the focus of a spin off show I’d watch every episode.
    I hope this story line ends up being as great as I’m thinking it could be.

  8. The amazing ending scene was probably depicting “The Lands of Always Winter”. Also, HBO’s description of the episode says that THE ******* NIGHT KING is the one to greet Craster`s baby and transform him. Did the show just reveal that The Night’s King legend from the books is real? And that the human, which is said to have been a Stark, turned into the King of The Others (the white walkers)? Also, why are they doing this to only baby boys? And why Craster`s? My god, so many questions come to mind.

    • As someone who has not read the books I just assumed that they were taking the boys to turn them into white walkers and thus build up their army, I mean who knows how many infants they’ve been given but I’m guessing it’s a lot. I assume they only want the boys because they’re building an army. How the Starks relate to any of this is beyond me but I do hope that this leads to the Starks being much more formidable than anyone ever thought and finally kicking some ass

      I’m just really glad that the show has brought the white walkers back to the foray as they’ve been the most mysterious aspect of this world so far besides the lord of light and seeing as this series is officially titled A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m assuming it all comes down to these two malevolent forces in the end. What will happen to everyone else is the real question now.

  9. Wow!! That ending was amazing! I am really enjoying this departure from the books. It’s making the series new for me all over again.

    Love it!!

  10. Maybe my favorite episode of this season so far. I was very glad we got to see Craster’s Keep, the show seemed to go exactly where my interest went without so much teasing stuff then leaving it for some other episode (I’m looking at you The Walking Dead) …and then we even got to see the breeding grounds of the White Walkers, something even readers hadn’t gotten to! pretty incredible. I’m also very excited about Jon and Bran’s path finally about to cross! too bad about the circumstances.

    Thanks, Kevin, for reminding us what Locke was doing at the Wall! I did recognize him but had forgotten he had been sent on that particular mission. I wonder how Jon Snow will manage this situation :/ I don’t think I’m ready to see another Stark death!

  11. *book spoilers in this comment*

    I know this episode diverged from the books but I like what they’re doing. I am all for more divergence if we can avoid sitting through all the boring sub-plot stuff in Dorne from book four. Also:

    “…as the White Walkers have more or less remained as a little seen but oft thought of presence. Their ways are largely unknown…”

    Yeah, and if you read the books you’re somewhere around 6,000 pages in and still know basically nothing about the White Walkers. Sad. If I recall correctly, they don’t even make an appearance in books four or five.

    Brilliant move with Bran’s party, too. Having them end up at Craster’s is technically story filler but it’s got the potential to be really good. If Rob rescues Bran and gets to speak with him, that’ll be a chance for a good scene missing from the books.

    And it’s probably been said here before, but Aiden Gillen is the perfect casting choice for Littlefinger. He perfectly conveys that creepy-yet-dangerous vibe.

  12. Aiden Gillen would also be perfect for doctor strange

    • I’ve been saying this for a year or more and if Disney/Marvel still haven’t noticed him by now for that role then I’d say they missed out on a great unsung talent.

  13. This website should be changed to “How GOT show compares to GOT books”. WHO CARES!!! Not everyone is reading the books and this perfectly fine. I noticed this issue much more now, than with last season’s SR reviews. And full of spoilers too (from the books). Please stop. The author of these reviews never seems to mention the books either because it’s a tv show blog.

  14. Did anyone else think about Vanilla Ice after the end of this episode?

  15. WHO is Jon Snow’s Mom?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!